ONE Championship's November lineup? Open-weight fight, champ-vs.champ, retirement title bout

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_vhS6TWmk_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/vhS6TWmk.json”,”ph”:2}
);

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, Videos

By all measures, November could be the biggest month for ONE Championship, which boasts a handful of can’t-miss fights.

The Asian promotion recently released the above trailer to highlight the November slate of events and fights.

Here’s what’s on tap for the shows, all of which stream as online pay-per-views in North America:

Nov. 3 – “ONE Championship 63: Hero’s Dream” at Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar

In the headliner, which is billed as “the world champion vs. the giant,” middleweight titleholder Aung La N Sang (20-10) takes on muay Thai heavyweight champion Alain Ngalani (3-3), who recently scored an 11-second win at ONE Championship 61.

Nov. 10 – “ONE Championship 64: Legends of the World” at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines

The headliner is a champion-vs.-champion bout as lightweight titleholder Eduard Folayang (18-5) takes on featherweight champ Martin Nguyen (9-1). Folayang’s lightweight belt is on the line.

Nov. 24 – “ONE Championship 65: Immortal Pursuit” at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore

This card features two big title fights. In the headliner, women’s atomweight champion Angela Lee (8-0) rematches Mei Yamaguchi (16-10-1), who’s the only fighter to take the champ the distance. And in the co-headliner, 170-pound champ Ben Askren (17-0), who’s No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, fights for the final time when he takes on big-show vet and Japanese notable Shinya Aoki (39-7) in his retirement fight.

For more on ONE Championship 63, ONE Championship 64 and ONE Championship 65, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Chairman takes umbrage with UFC's 'patently false' remarks about ONE Championship fighters

On Nov. 24, ONE Championship returns to Singapore with two belts on the line and a major retirement fight. And then, on Nov. 25, the UFC lands in Shanghai with one of its all-time greats as a headliner.

At first glance, one could probably see a correlation there. But, according to ONE Championship founder and chairman Chatri Sityodtong, the date picked for their “ONE: Immortal Pursuit” event has nothing to do with the UFC’s debut in mainland China.

“We really don’t build our business around our competitors and what they’re doing,” Sityodtong said on a conference call in support of the event, which streams live online via pay-per-view from Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. We build our business for our fans, for our advertisers, for our sponsors, for our broadcasters, for our athletes, for our staff, for anyone who’s directly involved with the ONE Championship ecosystem.”

“It just so happens that we have an event on Nov. 24 and the UFC has an event I think a couple days later, whatever it is. But it’s in a different country. This is nothing that’s on my mind.”

Still, Sityodtong isn’t shy about defending some of their own athletes compared to those of other promotions. Asked about undefeated champion Ben Askren, who’s set to have his retirement fight in the headlining bout, Sityodtong said he would still like to see him cement his legacy as the best 170-pounder in MMA history by testing himself against one of the UFC’s titleholders.

So long, Sityodtong clarified, as that person isn’t the UFC’s current 170-pound leader Tyron Woodley – who happens to train with the One Championship kingpin at Roufusport, in Milwaukee, where Askren is also a head wrestling coach.

“If you ask people who are in the know in the MMA community in America and around the world, everyone knows that Ben Askren is the single best welterweight on the planet,” Sityodtong said. “I would love to see UFC vs. One Championship welterweights go at it. Unfortunately, Tyron is also a great friend of Ben and a good friend of mine, as well. So anyone other than Tyron, I would love to see that as Ben’s final match against a UFC welterweight champion.”

At 33, Askren (17-0) has given a few reasons as to why he’s fine with his One Championship 65 battle with Shinya Aoki (39-7) being his last. But, speaking to The MMA Hour, he did leave the door open for a return under two conditions – that it’s for the No. 1 spot in the world and, again, that it isn’t against Woodley.

Sityodtong believes the promotion will have one of the greatest nights of its history with the upcoming event, which will also feature an atomweight title bout between 21-year-old champ Angela Lee (8-0) and Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi (16-10-1).

As Sityodtong made perfectly clear, the promotion is more focused on their own mission of celebrating “Asia’s greatest cultural treasure” in martial arts than on their competition. But that doesn’t mean they’re unaware of their competitors’ moves – or, better yet, their words.

When asked to further discuss his previous remarks about a possible matchup between Askren and a UFC titleholder, Sityodtong expressed his discontent with some of what was said in June, when UFC Fight Night 111 was brought to Singapore.

“A few months ago, the UFC threw an event in Asia, and some of the things they said to the media here were inaccurate,” Sityodtong said. “And some of them were patently false. And I felt the need to defend my athletes – whether it’s Ben Askren, whether it’s Shinya, whether it’s Angela Lee.

“They are, bar none, among the greatest martial artists on the planet, if not the greatest in their individual divisions.”

While Sityodtong didn’t really specify which remarks he was referring to, it might have something to do with former UFC executive Joe Carr’s dismissal of a cross-promotion fight with champ Lee, as reported by local outlet The Straits Times, on grounds of her being “fairways away” from competing in the UFC.

Sityodtong also went into further detail about the promotions’ influences in their respective markets. While they were fairly diplomatic, one could argue they also contrast with Carr’s remarks about the UFC’s actual influence in the Asian market.

“I think the UFC has done an amazing job in the Western hemisphere with their formula,” Sityodtong said. “And I think we’ve done an amazing job in the Eastern hemisphere with our formula. There is a global duopoly, just like any other industry.

“Just like Apple and Samsung, or General Motors and Toyota, or Amazon and Alibaba. There’s UFC and ONE Championship that control their respective hemispheres. I think that’s going to be a long time coming.

“There’s no industry, in the entire world, across any sector, where one player dominates the entire world. It never happened before in history. I don’t think it will ever happen. There’s always counterparts in two different geographic regions.”

For more on ONE Championship 65, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

ONE Championship's Ben Askren eyes matchmaking job – but first, a successful finale

When longtime ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren signed a contract extension with the Asia-based promotion at the end of 2015, he told his friends and family it would be his last.

By the end of 2017, his fighting days will be over.

Now just two months away from his final trip to the cage, Askren is trying to write the perfect ending – a professional MMA career of 18-0 – and set up his future.

“You have to be accepting of everything you’ve accomplished up to that point and accept that there’s a time to retire and move on to other pursuits in my life,” Askren (18-0) told MMAjunkie during a conference call in support of his career-ending fight against Shinya Aoki (39-7) at “ONE: Immortal Pursuit,” which takes place Nov. 24 at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Askren, a two-time NCAA wrestling champ and former Bellator titleholder, doesn’t plan to stray too far from his core competency. He will coach wrestlers at his academy in Wisconsin. He expects to go to work for his promoter, first as a matchmaker and then as a marketer and manager.

“I’m excited and eager to jump at any task they throw my way,” Askren said. “But first and foremost, I’ve got to finish my career right.”

Askren didn’t feel as certain about his expiration date at 30, one month before he won the ONE title. At 33, though, he has no doubt his decision to step away from the cage is the right one. The physical demands no longer provide much allure.

“I used to love going in the gym every single day,” he said. “I used to be passionate about it. I couldn’t wait. There was nothing I was more excited for. And now, I frickin’ hate it.

“I’m disciplined enough to still do it. I’m disciplined to get up two times a day and go to the gym every day and not miss a workout. But I don’t like it any more. So I know it’s my time.”

Askren didn’t want to become another athlete who’d hung on too long, particularly in a sport where that choice could lead to serious injury. Plus, he wants to be a better parent and husband, and he can’t do that if he’s training and fighting full-time.

“I’m taking time out of those things, which I thoroughly enjoy, to be selfish about my own training and making sure I’m the best I can be,” he said.

One month after his final fight in Singapore, he’ll welcome his third child. Being the world’s best dad will be right next to being the world’s best MMA executive on his list of post-career goals.

A behind-the-scenes role is not entirely new for Askren. When he couldn’t find an opponent to compete against for his professional debut in 2009, he and a few buddies decided to start their own MMA promotion, Headhunter Productions. At a Holiday Inn a stone’s throw from his alma mater at the University of Missouri, he stopped his opponent in less than 2 minutes. Another Mizzou alum and Askren teammate made his debut that night: Tyron Woodley.

ONE Championship, which boasts a broadcast reach of one billion potential viewers, is obviously on a much bigger scale. But Askren expects his hard work will shorten his learning curve.

“Whatever I’ve taken to, I’ve had success at,” Askren said. “And I think it’s because I’m so disciplined and determined in what I do.”

For more on ONE Championship 65, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

How good was Ben Askren? The sad part is, we'll probably never know

For the moment, let’s take Ben Askren at his word. Let’s say he really will retire after facing Shinya Aoki in November. Let’s say he walks away from active MMA competition forever at the age of 33, never to be seen in a cage or ring again.

Assuming he beats Aoki, which he should, he’ll finish his pro career with a record of 18-0 with one no-contest. Normally any unbeaten career would be impressive, but in Askren’s case the absence of losses is also a sign of the absence of meaningful competition.

He never discovered the limit of his own abilities, mostly because he never got the chance, which is perhaps a necessary reminder of how MMA differs from more traditional pro sports, and not always in the best ways.

To hear Askren tell it, he finagled his release from Bellator in 2013, despite being the reigning welterweight champion, because he was under the impression he’d then be signed by the UFC.

But once he was a free agent, suddenly the UFC decided it wasn’t interested. He should go somewhere else first, UFC President Dana White said. Let him sign with WSOF (which has since changed its name to the Professional Fighters League), and get some more experience. Then they’d talk.

This didn’t sit well with Askren. As anyone who’s met him knows, he doesn’t have the disposition for being bossed around. So instead of kissing the ring and waiting his turn, he signed with ONE Championship, opting to be the big fish in Southeast Asian MMA pond.

Now, after a little over three years of that, he’s had enough. So he says, anyway, though we all know how subject to revision these things can be.

But Askren’s reasons for retiring are all good ones. As he said on “The MMA Hour” this week, his body is feeling the effects of this demanding career, as is his personal life. So few fighters retire in time, he said, and he’d really rather not be one of the ones who hangs on too long.

The only thing that might get him to change his mind, according to Askren, would be if he were offered the fight he’s so far been denied.

“If it was for the No. 1 spot in the world,” Askren said. “Not two, not three, not four, not five – none of those spots. Against the No. 1 guy in the world.”

There’s something disheartening about the fact that a guy who’s never lost a fight has still never even come close to getting that opportunity. It reminds you that simply being good and winning all your fights isn’t enough. If your style isn’t exciting enough, or if the powers that be just don’t like your attitude, you might never get a shot. You could actually be the best in the world but never get a chance to prove it.

If that bothers Askren, he’s done a good job of hiding it. He’s always seemed to value his independence more than he values the opinions of others, so maybe the trade-off was worth it. He didn’t dance to the UFC’s tune, so he didn’t get to join the UFC’s party. There are worse ways for a career to unfold, I guess.

For those of us watching, however, it does make it harder to continue thinking of this sport as some sort of final martial arts proving ground, which was the promise of the early UFC events. Even now, the appeal of all those gold belts on the posters is that they ostensibly mean something. They tell us: This is to determine the best in the world.

Usually, that’s true, or at least as close to true as it can realistically be. But sometimes, as in the case of Askren, the world doesn’t seem to include absolutely everybody. And then all we can do is wonder.

For more on ONE Championship 65, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

ONE Championship 65 set for Nov. 24 with Angela Lee title defense, Ben Askren retirement fight

Singapore’s ONE Championship has scheduled a home game for Nov. 24, and a pair of title fights top the bill.

Promotion officials recently announced that “ONE Championship 65: Immortal Pursuit” takes place at Singapore Indoor Stadium and features atomweight champ Angela Lee (8-0) vs. Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi (16-10-1), as well as welterweight champ Ben Askren (17-0) – in what is expected to serve as his final professional fight – against grappling legend Shinya Aoki (39-7).

As with all ONE Championship events, “Immortal Pursuit” streams live via online pay-per-view.

“Unstoppable” Lee, the 21-year-old rising star, captured ONE’s inaugural atomweight title with a thrilling May 2016 win over Yamaguchi and has since registered defenses over Jenny Huang and Istela Nunes. Yamaguchi was in action most recently in June, submitting Huang to earn an opportunity to relive the epic clash with Lee.

Askren is currently ranked No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings. A decorated collegiate wrestler and U.S. Olympian, Askren also earned the Bellator welterweight belt before moving on to ONE Championship. Just 33, Askren has elected to call an early end to his undefeated professional career and will now face former ONE Championship lightweight title holder Aoki, who moves up in weight for the contest.

For more on ONE Championship 65, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

ONE Championship 60 highlights: Ben Askren maintains title, perfect career mark

ONE Championship welterweight title holder Ben Askren (17-0) is still unbeaten more than nine years into his professional career.

The “Funky” one returned to action at Saturday’s historic ONE Championship 60 even in Shanghai, manhandling Swedish challenger Zebaztian Kadestam (9-4) en route to a second-round TKO finish. Askren is now 5-0 under the ONE Championship banner. The former Bellator champion also stands at No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings.

To see highlights of Askren’s win, as well as other key results from the card, check out the video above, courtesy of ONE Championship.

Full ONE Championship 60 results included:

MAIN CARD (Online pay-per-view, 7 a.m. ET)

PRELIMINARY CARD (Untelevised, 5:30 a.m. ET)

For more on ONE Championship 60, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

ONE Championship 60 results: Champ Ben Askren defends again, secures another stoppage

With his third straight title defense and 17th consecutive victory, ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren had another relatively easy day of work.

Askren (17-0) dominated Swedish challenger Zebaztian Kadestam (9-4) in today’s ONE Championship 60 headliner.

“ONE Championship: Shanghai” took place at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in China, and it streamed as an online pay-per-view in North America.

Askren, a former Bellator champion who’s No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, cruised with a ground-geared attack.

Things didn’t start well for Kadestam, a 26-year-old striker who has seven knockouts in nine career wins, and they never got much better. In the opening moments of the fight, Askren, a former NCAA Division I national wrestling champion and Olympian, went to his roots and scored a big takedown (via Twitter):

Askren’s domination, which came from mount and while affixed to Kadestam’s back, continued through the first round and into the next.

Ultimately, a barrage of ground-and-pound from the mount, which came late in the second round, forced a merciful stoppage to the lopsided fight (via Twitter):

Askren picked up his 10th stoppage in 17 career wins. And the 33-year-old, who’s previously been criticized for a grinding and not-so-fan-friendly fighting style, now has stoppages in six of past seven fights.

Full ONE Championship 60 results included:

MAIN CARD (Online pay-per-view, 7 a.m. ET)

PRELIMINARY CARD (Untelevised, 5:30 a.m. ET)

For more on ONE Championship 60, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

Ben Askren defends title vs. Zebaztian Kadestam at ONE Championship 60 in Shanghai

For the first time, ONE Championship will touch down in Shanghai next month, and its welterweight title will be on the line.

Dominant unbeaten 170-pound champion Ben Askren (16-0) will put his belt up against Swedish challenger Zebaztian Kadestam (9-3) in the main event of ONE Championship 60.

The event takes place Sept. 2 at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in China. The card will stream via online pay-per-view in North America.

“China is one of our biggest markets, and the focus has been to really bring the rich cultural history of martial arts in China to the forefront,” Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, stated. “It is a delight to finally announce our inaugural event in the beautiful city of Shanghai.”

Askren will fight for the second time in 2017 when he steps in against Kadestam. In May, he submitted Agilan Thani at ONE Championship 55 for his second defense of the welterweight title. He stayed perfect for his career at 16-0, including 4-0 for ONE Championship.

Askren had just one fight in 2016, a non-title win over Nikolay Aleksakhin when Aleksakhin failed to make weight. And he had just one fight in 2015 – a no-contest with Luis Santos after Santos was poked in the eye and couldn’t continue.

Kadestam has alternated wins and losses for his past five fights. In May, he fought Santos and knocked him out with knees in the third round to put himself on the path to a fight with Askren. Overall, eight of Kadestam’s nine career wins have been by stoppage, indluding seven knockouts.

The ONE Championship 60 lineup includes:

For more on ONE Championship 60, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie